2011 Buffalo Bills: Top 10 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents to Consider
The Buffalo Bills struck gold after the 2010 NFL Draft ended, when they were able to sign four rookie undrafted free agents to contracts. They signed linebacker Antonio Coleman (Auburn) and three rookie wide receivers, David Nelson (Florida), Naaman Roosevelt (Univ. of Buffalo) and Donald Jones (Youngstown St.). All four figure to be back in 2011 and looking to command a bigger role than they did as a rookie.
Due to the labor agreement problems, Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix was not allowed to sign any undrafted rookie free agents after the 2011 NFL Draft concluded. He will have to wait for the CBA to be completed or for the NFL to rule that free agency can begin, which would also signal that the rookie free agents can be signed.
With that in mind, here are 10 rookie free agents that went undrafted that might make sense for the Bills to take a look at. Buddy Nix and staff have already got their own rankings completed, so it will be interesting to see if their list results in any players from this collection becoming members of the Buffalo Bills in 2011.
Who knows if anyone on this list can join the ranks of famous Bills players that never were drafted in college, like Fred Jackson, Pat Williams and Jason Peters.
Linebacker Mark Herzlich
Herzlich is 6'4" and weighs 244 pounds. The undrafted free agent is a cancer survivor and was selected yesterday in the United Football League draft.Herzlich was drafted in the 10th round by the Omaha Nighthawks. If he decides to sign with them, he will have to play out the season with the Omaha team, so he has a tough decision to make.
Herzlich ran the 40 yard dash from a low of 4.76 to a high of 4.98. He was thought to be a pick in rounds 5 or 6 but went undrafted. He played in the Senior Bowl as part of the North team. At the combine, he did 29 reps on the bench press, did a vertical jump of 32 1/2" and a broad jump of 9'4".
During his senior season, Herzlich was awarded the Rudy Award and the ACC Brian Piccolo Award. He started all 13 games and served as an inspiration to his Boston College teammates. He made 65 tackles, two forced fumbles, four interceptions and four pass break ups.
Herzlich came in to the 2009 season as the ACC Player of the Year when he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, which is a rare form of bone cancer. He overcame the disease and had a strong 2010 season.
This is the kind of player that you want on your team.
QB Pat Devlin
Devlin is a 6'3" 225 pound quarterback. He began his career at Penn State, but ultimately graduated from Delaware University.
The senior quarterback was generally thought to be a fifth or sixth round pick and was rated as the 10th or 11th best quarterback in the draft class. It is somewhat of a surprise that a team did not draft him at least with all of the supplemental picks awarded in the seventh round.
In his senior season, Devin passed for over 3,000 yards and had a TD to interception ratio of 22 to 3. He completed 68 percent of his passes and had an astronomical QB passer rating of 151.6. That is almost Cam Newton-like.
Unless the Bills are able to sign a veteran free agent whenever the lockout is lifted, it would make sense to bring in a player like Devlin to compete with Levi Brown to serve as the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Linebacker Alex Wujciak
Wujciak is a 6'2" and 250 pounds tackling machine. He is thought to be a very intense player with a very high motor. During the past three years at Maryland, Wujciak recorded 381 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles.
He can shred off blockers and is not afraid to challenge blockers if it will allow him to get to the ball carrier quicker. Due to the low risk (financial standpoint), there is no good reason for the Bills to not try to sign him to a deal and compete with fellow rookies Kelvin Sheppard and Chris White. He could also prove to be a solid special teams addition.
QB Scott Tolzien
Tolzien is 6'3" and weighs 205 pounds.Tolzien started two years at Wisconsin and, due to being a redshirt, is 24 years old.
During his career, he passed for over 5,200 yards and had a TD to Interception ratio of 32 to 18. From a pure numbers perspective, Pat Devlin put up better numbers, but Tolzien was playing in a much tougher conference.
As a senior, he led the NCAA with a 72.9 completion percentage, which is basically unheard of. He threw 266 passes, but only threw six interceptions, so he took good care with the ball.
During his career at Wisconsin, he amassed a record of 21 - 5, which means that some NFL teams should be giving him a look in summer camp. As we stated with Devlin, Tolzien could come in and compete with Levi Brown for the right to backup Ryan Fitzpatrick or at least be a developmental project.
Safety DeAndre McDaniel
When I had the opportunity to interview C.J. Spiller last August, he said that DeAndre McDaniel was someone that he thought could take his game to the NFL. Sadly, McDaniel went through all three days without hearing his name called.
McDaniel is 6'0" tall and weighs 217 pounds. He was generally thought to be among the five best safeties in the draft class. He put up some strong numbers at Clemson, which included 274 tackles, 15 interceptions and four forced fumbles.
With good ball skills like those, and the Bills looking to distance themselves from Donte Whitner, why not bring in McDaniel and let him compete with Da'Norris Searcy? The Bills know McDaniel fairly well already, as he was part of the South roster in the Senior Bowl. Maybe the Bills saw something then that turned them off.
Safety Deunta Williams
Deunta Williams was rated as the number three overall safety in the 2011 NFL draft class, so it is a fairly major upset that he was not drafted this past weekend.
Williams is 6'2" and weighs 205, so he brings decent size to the safety role. During his career, Williams registered 188 tackles, three forced fumbles and 12 interceptions. The 12 interceptions speak volumes about his ball skills, and again, he is someone that could come in and compete with Da'Norris Searcy. Worst case, he could make the practice squad and be ready for a call up if the Bills suffer an injury.
At least he would feel at home in Buffalo with teammates Da'Norris Searcy and Johnny White on the team.
WR Jeff Maehl
Maehl is a 6'1" 190 pounds receiver who was one of the stars for Oregon in the NCAA Championship game against Auburn. In that game, Maehl came up big, with nine catches for 133 yards.
Maehl is a fearless receiver that catches everything thrown his way. He is not very big, however, and that may prevent him from breaking off of press coverage. If you put him in motion, however, he might prove to be elusive, due to his quickness.
He is not as fast as he is quick. As an example of this, at the NFL Scouting Combines, Maehl led all receivers with a time of 6.42 seconds in the three-cone drill. That is better than A.J. Green, workout warrior Julio Jones and the rest of the draft class.
During his career, Maehl made 178 catches for 2,311 yards and 24 touchdowns. His best year by far was his senior year where he made 77 catches for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averaged 14 yards per catch.
He can come in and compete with Donald Jones and Naaman Roosevelt. If he does not survive the final cut, the Bills can surely put him on the practice team so he is ready for a promotion if an injury occurs.
Defensive End Pierre Allen
Allen is 6'4" and weighs 275 pounds. Here is Allen pictured in the Senior Bowl game, applying pressure to Christian Ponder. Allen is out of Nebraska. He is 23 years old, married and has a son. So to support his family, he is probably hoping that he can catch on with some NFL team.
Allen is probably best suited to play end in a 3-4 scheme. He doesn’t have a ton of upside, but could provide some quality depth in the right scheme. While at Nebraska, Allen made the All-Big 12 First Team. His stock was moving up, but he came up with a strained calf that prevented him from participating at the Scouting Combines. As a result, his draft stock plummeted.
He recorded back-to-back 50-plus tackle seasons with double digit tackles for loss and five sacks per season.
The Bills can bring him in for a look and see where he is at health wise. Could be a good player for depth or for practice squad.
Tight End Wesley Saunders
Saunders is a big tight end, going 6'5" and 270 pounds. Saunders has run the 40 in 4.72, which is pretty fast for a guy of his size.
Saunders played from 2007 to 2009 and averaged over 10.0 yards per catch all three years. He made 60 catches during his career, good for 718 yards and six touchdowns.
He does have some issues to explain away, such as why he got suspended from South Carolina. There are some physical tools that make him look like he could succeed at the next level. There are no financial issues with bringing in an undrafted free agent for a workout, so as light as the Buffalo Bills are at talent for tight ends, they have little to lose to at least kick his tires and see what is there.
Fullback Henry Hynoski
Fullback Henry Hynoski was a fullback at University of Pittsburgh. Rather surprisingly, none of Dave Wannstedt's players were drafted by the Bills, but they were sure drafted by the rest of the NFL.
Hynoski is 6'2" and weighs 260 pounds. His size allows him to barrel into defenders and open up holes for the running back or to give strong pass protection to the quarterback. He has run the ball for Pitt at times, and can catch the ball out of the backfield, but he will primarily interest NFL teams because of his blocking skills.
He could come in and compete with Corey McIntrye for the starting fullback role.
For a much more thorough list of the top five undrafted rookie free agents listed by position, here is a link to the list put together by Wes Bunting of the National Football Post.
Here are another 13 names to consider as far as undrafted rookie free agents go:
Adrian Taylor (pictured) - Oklahoma defensive tackle.
Kendrick Burney - North Carolina cornerback.
Joe Lefeged - Rutgers Safety
Derrick Locke - Kentucky wide receiver
Ian Williams - Notre Dame defensive tackle
Noel Devine - West Virginia running back
Jerrad Tarrant - Georgia Tech safety
Jake Kirkpatrick - TCU offensive lineman
Will Hill - Florida safety
Dane Sanzenbacker - Ohio State wide receiver
Orie Lemon - Oklahoma State linebacker
John Clay - Wisconsin H-Back
Schuylar Oordt - Northern Iowa tight end